What can leaders do to inspire and nurture excellence in those they lead? That's the question addressed by Tony Schwartz on his HBR.org blog.
Schwartz offers six key steps leaders can take to fuel excellence among their people, as follows:
1) Ban words like 'talented', 'gifted' and special'. Instead, Schwartz suggests using words that recognise effort, like 'effective', 'determined', 'accomplished', 'skilled', 'persevering', and 'masterful'.
2) Appreciate people's successes. This should be done regularly, genuinely and specifically. Noticing what people are doing well and expressing your appreciation can be the most effective motivation. Believe in their potential and don't concentrate too much on their failures.
3) Provide constant feedback. Schwartz says that annual reviews are insufficient and often worthless. He believes leaders should resist pointing out people's deficits and instead focus on helping them improve to the next level.
4) Create and protect periods of uninterrupted focus. Interruptions fracture attention.
5) Encourage and model intermittent renewal throughout the day. Research shows great performers work intensely for no longer than 90 minutes and then stop to refuel, so create a "renewal room" for relaxation.
6) Tie the pursuit of excellence to a larger mission. The author insists: "You need to give your people a compelling reason to push beyond their comfort zones. What most of us hunger for is evidence that what we're doing truly matters and serves something beyond the bottom line."
The author suggests you start by defining what you truly stand for, sharing with others what gets you up in the morning as regularly as you can, and encouraging people to go through the same exercise for themselves.